CHICAGO -- Belle Vernon, Pa., winner of Kraft Hockeyville™ USA 2017 as the country's most passionate hockey community, will host a series of exciting activities at Rostraver Ice Garden from September 21-24, including a ticketed practice session by the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins on the morning of Sunday, September 24.
The Kraft Hockeyville™ USA NHL preseason game, originally scheduled for Rostraver Ice Garden, will be held in Cranberry Township, Pa. The Penguins will host the St. Louis Blues at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex on Sunday, September 24 at 7 p.m. CT, and will be nationally televised by NBCSN. Members of the Belle Vernon community and youth hockey players from Rostraver Ice Garden will receive the majority of the tickets. The ticket distribution plan for the game and the practice session will be communicated by the Kraft Hockeyville local organizing committee at a later date. Rostraver Ice Garden also will receive $150,000 in arena upgrades as part of its Kraft Hockeyville™ USA prize.
Following a thorough and careful review, Kraft Hockeyville™ USA partners determined Rostraver Ice Garden is not equipped at this time to host an NHL preseason game. Decisions regarding the location of Kraft Hockeyville™ USA NHL preseason game venues are made by all Kraft Hockeyville™ USA partners who work together to ensure that each year's game is held in a facility that meets the standards required in the competition's official rules.
Belle Vernon and Rostraver will be the centerpieces of a four-day celebration of Kraft Hockeyville™ USA, including youth hockey clinics and referee clinics, a parade and appearances by the Stanley Cup and members of the Penguins and Blues organizations.
The Penguins will bring its game-night entertainment operation - including music, videos, anthem singer Jeff Jimerson, P.A. announcer Ryan Mill and the Penguins Ice Crew - to a Rostraver youth hockey game that week. Jimerson will also host a contest to determine which local resident will sing the national anthem at the September 24 preseason game. Further details will be released in the coming weeks.
"The community of Belle Vernon perfectly exemplifies the passion and sense of pride that comes with the Kraft Hockeyville™ USA program," said Nina Barton, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Innovation and R&D at Kraft Heinz. "We look forward to celebrating their win in what is sure to be a magical week of events."
"The Penguins are excited to hold a practice session at Rostraver Ice Garden, which was the site of some of our training camps in the 1970s," said David Morehouse, president and CEO of the Penguins. "We're also looking forward to bringing our game entertainment operation, including anthem singer Jeff Jimerson, to what should be a very unique youth hockey game at Rostraver. It's an honor to join with Kraft Heinz, the NHL and the NHL Players' Association in saluting Belle Vernon as Kraft Hockeyville USA 2017."
"We thank the Penguins, Blues and Kraft Hockeyville USA partners for their commitment to adding new and exciting activities to this year's event in Belle Vernon at Rostraver Ice Garden to make this the most memorable Kraft Hockeyville for the community," said Brian Jennings, NHL Chief Brand Officer & Executive Vice President. "On a few occasions, over the course of the 11-year history of the Kraft Hockeyville program, we've had to make the tough decision to hold the NHL preseason game in an alternative rink outside the winning community to ensure an optimal experience for fans and players alike. We would like to extend our gratitude to the community of Belle Vernon for embracing the new location of the game at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. We are thrilled with the exciting activities planned for the Belle Vernon community which we feel will take the fan experience to a new level."
"The opportunity to bring the game of hockey being played at its highest level to a grassroots community like Belle Vernon, PA is something that the players are really looking forward to," said NHLPA Special Assistant to the Executive Director, Mathieu Schneider. "With the youth clinic and appearances at the Rostraver Ice Garden, along with the game at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, the celebration of Kraft Hockeyville™ USA 2017 will be a thrill for fans and players alike."
This is the second time in three years that a Western Pennsylvania community has earned the Kraft Hockeyville™ USA honor. Johnstown, Pa. was the inaugural winner in 2015 and Marquette, Mich. captured the prize last year.